Wonder  }  Architecture

The Coastal Towers of Porto Cesareo

Ancient sentinels of the sea but also centers of culture and life

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Where is


73010 Porto Cesareo LE, Italia (4m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

Four sentinels peer out to sea. They are the 16th-century Coastal Towers of Porto Cesareo: Torre Lapillo, Torre Chianca, Torre Cesarea and Torre Castiglione. Massive, imposing and reassuring, they are a distinctive character of this territory. The watchtowers of the great emperors Frederick II and Charles V of Spain, with their height of about 16 meters they represented in the 15th century the first defensive bulwark against the raids of the Saracens who besieged the entire Salento for about 5 centuries.

Why it is special

Apart from the "ruined" Castiglione Tower, all the coastal towers are now an integral part of city life. Careful restoration and concessions, in fact, ensure their activity and usability. Torre Cesarea is home to the Command of the Guardia di Finanza, Torre Lapillo and Torre Chianca are managed by the C.E.A. (Environmental Education Center of Porto Cesareo). These extraordinary military architectures, however, have not lost their first vocation as "sentinels of the sea." Thanks to a project of the A.M.P of Porto Cesareo, there are video surveillance systems on top of the towers that monitor the marine reserve on a daily basis.

Not to be missed

Scanning the horizon is wonderful, but don't forget to also observe what is near, or rather, inside the Coastal Towers, where museums, exhibition spaces and information centers have been set up. In Torre Chianca you can visit the Sea Turtle First Aid Center (in collaboration with A.M.P) and the Environmental Experience Center, which are developed on both floors of the Tower. In Torre Lapillo there is the Visitor Center of the Oriented Nature Reserve "Palude del Conte e Duna Costiera di Cesareo" and an exhibition space on the ancient fishing gear used by local fishermen.

A bit of history

The Towers are part of the defensive system conceived by Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) and built during the reign of his son Philip II (1527-1598) to defend the people of Salento from the frequent raids by sea by Turks and Saracens. Splendid examples of military architecture, their function over the centuries has changed according to need. During World War II they were used by Italian soldiers as an artillery station shelter. During the same period the tower suffered several injuries and dents due to the exercises of German soldiers who took refuge in the camps of Leverano and San Pancrazio.


"Mesciu ca conza e sconza nu perde mai fatica" Craftsman who undoes and fixes never loses work. It is said that in 1568 it was an Apulian builder who won the tender to build one of the towers. The tower was completed in two years on a rugged cliff, among rushes and marshes. Imposing and majestic, it led to a period of tranquility and local fishermen began to repopulate the area. After 50 years, minor subsidence led to its dismemberment to figure out the "factory defect" and demolition in 1622 to rebuild it from the ground up. It was certainly a good job if the tower still stands undisturbed today.

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Coastal Towers have varied their function over the centuries as needed. Today, in addition to being important cultural centers, they continue to control the Sea by monitoring the entire Porto Cesareo Marine Protected Area.


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